Several kinds of farthingales existed during the sixteenth century and the beginning
of seventeenth century, of course according to the fashions but also to the diversity
The farthingale was, more particularly in Spain, a rigid petticoat in shape of bell
on which were fixed some armatures. These one could be realized with various ways
: they could be made of big wire, bone, rope or flexible branches of a bush (the
"vertugo" : that explains the french word of "vertugadin" which designates this underwear).
This shape made it possible the skirt to be flared without gathers at the waist,
what gave it this characteristic bell shape. As a general rule, a black skirt, the
"basquina", placed under the farthingale, was also straightened with circles.
In France, the farthingale, called "vertugadin", was constituted of a cushion placed
on the hips, between the inside tunic and the above gown. It made the thinness of
waist to bring out.
The bell farthingale wasn't very worn in France.
The influence of Spain on Italy was even present in the fashion : the italian figure
appeared so rigid because of the farthingale.
In Spain, it was in fashion up to the middle of seventeenth century.
The farthingale in shape of cushion was a french speciality. It never wore by spanish
A special seat called "farthingale seat" was created in order to the ladies can sit.
Those seats were constituted of a back but hadn't any armrest.
The flat farthingale (vertugadin plateau) followed at the one in shape of cushion.
It was also called tambourine farthingale (vertugadin tambour) because it was in
shape of wheel. It was placed very close to the waist, often covered with gathered
frounces made of the same material than the gown. It appeared in France at the end
of sixteenth century.
In England, like somewhere else, the beginning of seventeenth century saw the diminution
of the size of farthingale which became a simple stuffing.
In Holland, the farthingale was called fandegalijn.
It's a mistake to think that the french word "vertugadin" means a "virtue" which
it must "keep", it's an error usually made by some historians during the nineteenth
century. The farthingale was for ladies exclusively and not for poor women.